Northwestern Signs Seven to National Letters of Intent

EVANSTON, Ill. December, 1. NORTHWESTERN head coach Jimmy Tierney has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The group will matriculate to Northwestern in the fall of 2006 and be eligible to compete during the 2006-07 season.

Stacy Congdon (Windermere, Fla./Lake Highland Prep), Mary Beth Francis (San Diego, Calif./Mission Viejo), Jenn Kocsis (Omaha, Neb.Marian), Rachel Rys (Goleta, Calif./Dos Pueblos), Kassia Shishkoff (Raleigh, N.C./St. David's School), Genny Szymanski (Haines, Alaska/Haines) and Emily Wong (Nepean, Ontario/St. Joseph's) comprise a class that truly represents all corners of North America.

"I am extremely excited to announce the signing of seven outstanding young women who may represent one of the deepest and most talented classes in the history of Northwestern's women's swimming and diving," Tierney said. "This group of student- athletes brings a tremendous amount of potential for Northwestern both in the pool and in the classroom. They will help NU reach greater heights in the Big Ten and NCAA in the
coming years."

Congdon is a ten-time high school All-American who won a pair of Florida state titles in the 200 and 400 free relays. Tierney is counting on her to add power to the Wildcats' strong butterfly group and strengthen NU's relays.

"Stacy was our first commitment this fall and greatly influenced other girls to join the Wildcat family," Tierney said. "She will contribute right away in the 100-200 fly and in the 50-200 freestyles. I believe she will make others around her better with her infectious enthusiasm and love for the sport."

Francis is a distance freestyler who qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800 free. She achieved world rankings in the 800 and 1500 free events in 2003.

"Mary Beth really impressed our team on her visit here," Tierney said. "She definitely is a talented distance swimmer who is being groomed by one of the top coaches in the U.S. right now. I am excited to see how fast Mary Beth will develop in the coming years."

Kocsis is a ten-time state champion in Nebraska, and holds the state records in the 200 free and the 200 and 400 free relays. She also is a Junior National and U.S. Open qualifier.

"We are very excited to add someone as talented as Jenn to our program," Tierney said. "She can do some damage for us in the middle-distance and distance freestyle events as well as in the 800 free relay. Jenn is our second big signee from Omaha in the past two
years, so needless to say, we love Omaha!"

Rys was a Senior National finalist in the 200 fly and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials. She also won the California Division I state title in the 100 fly.

"I really believe Rachel is a perfect match for Northwestern as a student and an athlete," Tierney said. "She seriously considered the Ivy's, but chose us and I know she will blossom here. She is one of the most talented butterflyers in the country to graduate this year. She has overwhelmed us with her enthusiasm about her future school and team ever since signing."

Shishkoff has won six North Carolina state titles, three each in the 200 and 500 free. She holds the state records in both events. Shishkoff placed eighth in the 200 free at the 2005 NCSA Junior Nationals and 12th in the 200 meter free at the 2005 Speedo Junior Nationals.

"Kassia will have an immediate impact on this team in several events," Tierney said. "She will arrive next fall as one of our top middle-distance freestylers. She also will provide depth in the 200 fly. I think she has a lot of potential, especially coming in from a top program that is training her hard and developing a great work ethic in her."

Szymanski holds a number of Alaska state age-group records, including three in the 100 back. She set the 13-14 age-group long and short course 100 back marks and the 15-16 age-group long course 100 record.

"Genny has a very unique background coming from a very small town in Alaska, but will fit right in at Northwestern and the Big Ten with her backstroke prowess," Tierney said. "She has amazing endurance and will continue to gain more speed as her strength develops. Genny will be a great addition to our team."

Wong has experience on the international stage, having competed for the Canadian Junior National Team at several meets. She took bronze in the 50-meter free and silver in the 4×100 and 4×200 free relays at the 2005 Junior Pan Pacific Games, and represented Team Ontario at the 2005 Canada Games where she won two golds and a bronze while setting a pair of meet records.

"Emily is one of Canada's emerging sprint stars," Tierney said. "She has a tremendous amount of speed and will provide us with a great 1-2 punch in the 50-100 free. Our free relays will benefit greatly with the addition of Emily, as well. We hope to help Emily improve her stature as an NCAA athlete and with the Canadian National team."